Feminism's Critique of Traditional Thinking - Comparing John Stuart Mills and Critical Essays by Will Kymlicka and Robin West

Essay by ClenUniversity, Bachelor'sA, October 2006

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Throughout history, it can be argued that the traditional way of thinking has excluded women's perspectives in both legal and political philosophy, consequentially leading to the problem of inequality. John Stuart Mills was one particular philosopher who addressed the problem of inequality between the sexes and the traditional mode of thinking. Mills was also one of the first philosophers to provide arguments against the subjugation of women. Two additional arguments against traditional thinking can be seen in the work by Will Kymlicka, entitled Sexual Inequality and Discrimination and the work by Robin West, entitled Political Theory and Gender. Through the examination of each of these three philosophers one can begin to produce a clear conception of how traditional modes of thinking have excluded women's perspectives in both legal and political philosophy. Additionally, an examination into the difference approach can be taken as one possible remedy for this sexual inequality. However, by acknowledging the weaknesses of the difference approach, one can recognize the eventual necessity in adopting the dominant approach as a superior remedy for sexual inequality.

Therefore, through careful examination of both of these approaches, one is able to come to a conclusion about the tensions inherent in feminism concerning their desire for equality, and their quest to be recognized as different.

John Stuart Mills was one of the first philosophers to provide rational responses to the two arguments for women's subjugation, thus providing much insight into the oppression and liberation of women during the 19th century. Mills states that women's unequal relations with men are due to a combination of biological attractions between the sexes, women's socio-economic dependence and their subordinate roles. Additionally, Mills argues that women's subjugation is not due to their inferior nature, but is a result of forced repression disallowing women to display their true nature.